Say Cheese! On Instamatic Education and the "snapshot" of student achievement

 Data-driven administrators tell us this "snapshot" doesn't tell us the whole story.
Then they put that snapshot in a big frame and mount it on the wall. 
I just wish they spent as much time polishing the apple as they do the frame. 

image source
"Data-driven" administrators like to talk around the problems we immediately encounter when assessing the results of standardized tests by assuring us that the tests provide just one "snapshot" of a single day, a single test, a single score, "one of many ways we assess our students."  And yet even as they acknowledge the flaws in both the data itself and the tests they administer, they continue to privilege this useless data, using it to inform their decision-making, to justify the "school report cards" that say so very little about our schools, and to measure both student progress and teacher performance.

They tell us the standardized tests provide a "snapshot".  What they don't tell us is that the camera used to take this picture is obsolete. It can't zoom in or focus.  It doesn't have a built-in flash.  It has no personalized features that recognize variations among the subjects it photographs. The film is so old they have to send it out of state for special-order processing. They know it's the worst camera they have (and they've known this for years), but it's the one that's easiest to use, and it gives near-instant results.

"Data-driven" administrators tell us that standardized tests provide a "snapshot" of our child's performance, and assure us that that snapshot is just one of many they take throughout the day.  Then they put that snapshot in a big frame and mount it on the wall.

Perhaps it's time for more parents - and educators - to stand up and say "no thanks" to this particular school picture day.

Instamatic Education:
Not giving us a very accurate picture of student achievement.

If you're in the Madison area, join us on Nov. 6 to discuss Reign of Error at the Sun Prairie Public Library (with special guests Ruth Conniff, editor of the Progressive and Tim Slekar, Dean of the School of Education, Edgewood College) and on Nov. 14 at the Orpheum Theater on State Street in Madison to see Diane Ravitch live and in person, discussing her book.  Connect with local education advocates and activists and learn why it matters that you get involved.  Details here.

"Listen" documentary challenges the push toward more and more testing.

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